Acoustic Plasterboard vs Normal Plasterboard for Noise Reduction

Acoustics and insulation have always been frenemies. That’s why people came up with numerous solutions how to keep them in balance. Particularly when there are factors we cannot influence.

Many different materials and their combinations have been used to reach the perfection in terms of sound. After all, that’s one of the reasons my blog exists, to help all those dealing with wanted and unwanted sounds all around.

Plasterboard is becoming more and more popular, especially among DIY-ers. It replaced plaster or a combination of lath and plaster which were used to cover ceilings and stud partitioning. Plasterboard also serves as a wall lining and one can attach it very simply.

It turned out as a rather useful component for soundproofing, which is why I shall introduce you to plasterboard, its types, and uses.

Acoustic Plasterboard v.s. Normal Plasterboard

Get to know plasterboard

Plasterboard consists of an inner layer of gypsum (with water crystalline molecules) and outer layers of paper. Gypsum is sandwiched between layers of paper. Depending on the additives found in gypsum as well as the weight of the paper, a finished board has various purposes. That means that some of them are fire-resistant, the others are excellent for soundproofing, and so on.

Different types of plasterboard and their uses

Each of the types has its own specific features, which makes it perfectly suitable in certain situations. Which one will you pick depends exclusively on what you have in mind when it comes to insulation.

The most commonly known is a normal plasterboard. Don’t get confused! Drywall, gypsum, sheetrock, all those are the names by which plasterboard is known. It increases the thickness of normal walls double, becoming even more fire and sound resistant.

You can paint and decorate on it but on either face. It is advisable to seal it prior to this.  You can even put a skim plaster on it, as the paper on the front face is specifically designed for that purpose.

Acoustic Plasterboard

To start with the one we are most interested in, acoustic plasterboard is a thicker variant of normal plasterboard. Its core has a higher density which means it provides a good level of sound insulation.

If reinforced with another soundproof material (for example, fiberglass, mineral wool), it’s even more effective. The higher the mass of acoustic plasterboard is the better the soundproofing you get. To get the most of it, you can insulate thin walls and ceilings, particularly in blocks of flats. You will find it very useful and effective.

Besides this, you can use perforated and slotted mini grid plasterboard, which is excellent in absorbing echoes. This is due to its perforated structure. Although dealing with the same issue (unwanted sounds), this type of plasterboard is not the same as acoustic plasterboard.

perforated-and-slotted-mini-grid-plasterboard

Moisture resistant plasterboard, enhanced with silicone or some other water repellent additives. This type is suitable for wet and high humidity areas. You normally don't plaster it, as gypsum plasters soak up quickly. Its face is green and it's often used in kitchens and bathrooms.

water-resistant-plasterboard

In addition to this type, there’s another one with a similar purpose. It is called foam-backed plasterboard and it prevents condensation inside the walls.

Speaking of condensation, there’s another type that fixes this problem quite well. Foil-backed plasterboard, with metalized polyester foil, also serves as a soundproofing material for rooms. The acoustics gets improved. It's also known as vapor barrier or vapor check plasterboard.

Having water crystalline molecules as an ingredient, plasterboard is already fire resistant. However, in places which require stringent fire protection, you need to be additionally cautious. When plasterboard’s core is enriched with glass fiber or some other additive, it becomes even more efficient in fire protection. That's fire resistant plasterboard, which comes with a pink face. You can either plaster or paint.

fire-resistant-plasterboard

In areas such as public and commercial buildings, where damages are more likely to occur, impact plasterboard is the solution. It is durable, tough and load carrying capacity is at a high level.

impact-plasterboard

Recently, manufacturers have developed multi-purpose plasterboard called 4-in-1 Plasterboard. Besides being used as normal plasterboard, it is fire, water, and impact resistant.

More on acoustic plasterboard 

Speaking of the color of the acoustic plasterboard, one face is brown and the other is ivory. Which one will you plaster, it’s entirely up to you. People usually choose to plaster over the brown and paint over the ivory side, but the other way round is fine as well.

As for the weight, many factors, such as size and density, determine that. If there are some additives or additional layers of other insulation materials, it may slightly influence the weight, but minimally indeed. One sheet usually goes about 18 to 40 kgs.

If measuring thickness, there are two sizes 9.5 and 12.5 mm. As for the size, the width is between 0.9 and 1.2 m  and the length between 1.8 and 3.6 m.

4-in-1-plasterboard

Plasterboard edges can be either tapered or square. The first one, which tapers in thickness towards the edges is ideal for skimming or jointing, while the other is usually used for textured finishes.

A brief instruction on acoustic plasterboard installation

The whole process is rather simple, since there are only two steps, cutting and installing.

First, determine the dimensions and use a stanley knife to cut it easily. When cutting’s finished, knock it gently from behind. At this point, plasterboard should bend where it’s cut. Now run the stanley knife through the back, on the bending place, and cut the paper.

There are two ways how to install plasterboard on the wall. One is to dot and dab it. You can additionally use Green glue, which, being an acoustic adhesive compound will serve as additional sound dampening layer. Read more about Green Glue here.

how-to-install-plasterboard

If you choose to screw the plasterboard into the wall, be extra careful because plasterboard can deform due to pressure. Use special screws for attaching the plasterboard.

Even though these two steps sound so easy that one may believe even a child could do it, still don’t rush. It’s better to have it done by a professional, otherwise one can end up in a really messy, or even worse situation.

The biggest problem that may turn up is a damaged wall. So, a professional may tell you more about the wall construction itself, because it’s an important detail for soundproofing.

Is acoustic plasterboard really effective in soundproofing?

Comparing to normal plasterboard, this one definitely provides additional sound reduction. Most acoustic plasterboards can reduce sound by 36-40 dB. Having in mind that humans perceive a 10db drop as a significant drop this piece of information sounds fantastic.

However, how well the acoustic plasterboard will perform depends on the rest of your room.  If the room itself isn’t soundproofed, if there are sound leakages through crevices, it simply won’t do.

So, if you are starting insulation from the beginning, my advice would be to buy acoustic plasterboard, because you will get more. Echoes, vibrations, all sorts of likewise sounds do become annoying over time, so why not prevent them, if we have the means?

Final Verdict: Acoustic Plasterboard v.s. Normal Plasterboard

If one has the particular need to reduce, absorb or block the sound energy, then one should opt for nothing else but this type of plasterboard. A high-density core of acoustic plasterboard gives enhanced acoustic performance to wall or ceiling. It cuts down the noise transmission coming from airborne sounds (speech, music).

So, it’s not only about musicians and their striving for the perfect sound, but it’s a thing that all of us common people care about. There’s no need to make compromises with the sounds that you simply don’t want to listen. Have them gone with acoustic plasterboard.

Even if you spare few bucks extra, compared to normal plasterboard, be sure that the investment will pay off. You will get peace of your mind.

Have you already used acoustic plasterboard and did it work fine for you? Have you tried decorating it and how did it look in the end? Tell us all your experiences!